2Ls Taylor Ford and Ashley Ebersole win Bass, Berry & Sims Moot Court competition

by Amanda Schlager
2006 Moot Court winners Taylor Ford, left, and Ashley Ebersole

2006 Moot Court winners Taylor Ford, left, and Ashley Ebersole

This year's Intramural Moot Court competition forced students to confront First Amendment issues drawn from the front pages of the New York Times.

Petitioners represented a West Virginia student reporter who wrote an article for her college newspaper that revealed criminal environmental activity at a local steel mill, citing a confidential informant employed at the mill as her source. The government opened a criminal investigation into the company's activities and subpoenaed the student, demanding that she reveal her source. The student refused.

Petitioners argued for a complete or qualified press privilege to prevent the student from being held in contempt and/or forced to reveal her confidential source.

Respondents, representing the State of West Virginia, argued against any kind of press privilege and emphasized the pressing need for relevant information in a criminal investigation.

The final round on February 8 pitted petitioners Ashley Ebersole and Taylor Ford against respondents Alan Bean and Joshua Lynch. Judges included Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark '79, Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Patricia J. Cottrell, and. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe B. Brown '65. "These were excellent arguments and the very fact that we can address the level of detail that we are is because of the high quality of what you have presented us," said Judge Clark.

Petitioners Ebersole and Ford won the competition and the John A. Cortner Award, while Bean and Finch received awards as finalists in the competition.

Jihan Walker, Paul Nii-Amar Amamoo, Mary Helen Wimberly and Ashley Grovert were recognized as Moot Court semifinalists; Joy Royes and Joshua Tatum for Best Brief, and Elizabeth Gonser for Best Oralist.

Stayce Burkhart received the K. Harlan Dodson Award, which recognizes an outstanding leader on the moot court board. "Stayce coordinated the entire Intramural Moot Court Competition, and her preparation and planning made for one of the smoothest and most successful competitions in years," said Jessica Halbert, Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board.

The awards were presented by Dean Edward Rubin.